Housing Opportunity District Unanimously Passed in Haddam

 

Ann Faust, Program Coordinator, Middlesex County Coalition on Housing and Homelessness

Haddam is a scenic rural town, just south of Middletown along the Connecticut River. It is the epitome of the land of steady habits. Change is slow and thoughtful in this place that I’ve called home for more than twenty-five years. In the past several decades, development has been almost exclusively four bedroom single family homes on two acre lots and our zoning regulations encouraged this type of development. Every few years, various town leaders would broach the subject of creating affordable housing, but there was never the public will to make it happen. 
 
This time was different. Last week, the Haddam Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously passed a Housing Opportunity District that allows for denser development if a percentage of the units are deeded affordable. Perhaps it’s because many retirees want to stay in Haddam, but cannot find a smaller place to move near our town center. Perhaps it’s because many empty nesters see their grown children leave, in part because housing in Haddam is too big and too expensive. Perhaps it is because of the grassroots efforts of our Town Planner, Liz Glidden, and the members of the Planning & Zoning Commission. They put in many hours learning about the issue (with the help of the Partnership for Strong Communities) and hosting meetings at the Grange Hall, the Senior Center, area churches and town boards and commissions. Rarely has the public sentiment moved more quickly in my town. It gives me hope that change is coming all over the land of steady habits.

Fortunately, considering the great need for more housing options in so many of our towns, Haddam isn't alone in establishing a way to incorporate affordable and mixed-income homes into their spectrum of housing choices. At the upcoming March 31st IForum Housing Choice & Affordability: Unlocking Opportunity,”  local leaders from Fairfield, Guilford, Old Saybrook and Newtown will be discussing how they’ve made progress advancing mixed-income housing in their communities. I hope to see you there!

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